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Microsoft's Athens PC 666

OneLeg noted that the Seattle Times has a story on Microsoft deciding to partner up with HP and work on new PCs with a simpler, more controlled architecture. Including things like integrated telephony into the PCs, and in general, being a bit more Maclike and locking Linux out of the desktop market.
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Microsoft's Athens PC

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  • What about Apple? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Randolpho ( 628485 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:29AM (#5891372) Homepage Journal
    OMG, you're kidding me. Isn't this what people usually blast Apple about? Trying to control both hardware *and* software?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:29AM (#5891374)
    All your bus are belong to us?
  • Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IronTek ( 153138 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:29AM (#5891376) Homepage
    being a bit more Maclike and locking Linux out of the desktop market.

    ...Since when can't you run Linux on your Mac? Further, since when has Apple been worried about such a thing?!
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by byolinux ( 535260 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:30AM (#5891387) Journal
      I think they are two different points:-

      Point 1. Being more like a Mac.
      Point 2. Microsoft will not allow Linux on this machine.
      • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by MatthewB79 ( 47875 )
        Where does the article specifically mention locking linux out of the machine? There's one line about "fending off competition" but the article is so vague about the actual technologies (Palladium?) to be used. Maybe it's too far off yet to see what barriers they will implement to prevent me from running linux on it. Looks to me like it's an XBOX with a mac screen and keyboard and a thumbprint scanner.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

          by Transient0 ( 175617 )

          1. Microsoft controlled architecture
          2. Thumbprint scanner

          Does anyone else see through this simple ploy on Microsoft's part to collect all of our biometric information? I bet their next computer requires a blood sample for verification.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <<giles.jones> <at> <>> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:00PM (#5891746)
          Barriers being the architecture will be patented, useful info about the chipset and bus design will be secret.

          Reverse engineering it all will be illegal under the DMCA.

          Microsoft being involved in desktop hardware should result in more anti-trust accusations.
          • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Master Bait ( 115103 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:34PM (#5892123) Homepage Journal
            The DMCA is an American law. The rest of the world will make reverse-engineered drivers, if necessary, while the Americans cower in their safe corporate state.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Interesting)

        Point 2. Microsoft will not allow Linux on this machine.

        I'd like to see them try.

        I'm no coder, but there are thousands of people out there that can crack whatever MS tries to do (search for 'xbox' on Source Forge [] for examples...).

        They can do whatever they want. I personally don't care. If there's a machine that's controled in this fashion, I won't buy it. It's really that simple.

        No Sales == No Production
        No Production == Bad Idea
        Bad Idea == Bag It.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:54AM (#5891681)
          They can do whatever they want. I personally don't care. If there's a machine that's controled in this fashion, I won't buy it. It's really that simple.

          No Sales == No Production
          No Production == Bad Idea
          Bad Idea == Bag It.

          Nope. I bet counsumers will eat this up if it meets the users wants and has a low price point.
          You and I may not like it, but we don't control the end user market.
          • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by eric6 ( 126341 )
            actually, you and him and I do control the end user market. that is, the end user "market" is simply the combination of thousands if not millions of others, just like you. We can debate all day about the clueless/fulness of the "average" user, or demographics of the market, but it all boils down to people making decisions.

            The parent's right: if nobody buys it, it'll tank. And you're right: if it meets consumers' needs, they'll buy it.

            However, for the most part, there isn't a more powerful force in th
            • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by missing000 ( 602285 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:21PM (#5891978)
              I disagree. We, as most readers of /., do not buy systems for the same reasons that the vast majority of end users do.
              The end user wants a toster. Something cheap and easy to use. They also want it to look nice in their living area.
              The average /. reader wants a powerful machine in with a lot of flexability, and generaly cares little about the case it comes in.
              There is nothing keeping the two worlds apart except money. There is nothing wrong with what the end user wants either.
              They are not idiots, they are just not interested in the workings of the machine. They just want it to work.

              The best thing that the open source community can do for these users is try to make that perfect toaster work better for less.
              If MS wants to make hardware, so be it. If they make great hardware, fine. If its good, someone will create a clone. Our job is to make it cost less and run better by writing better software for it.
          • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 )
            You and I may not like it, but we don't control the end user market.

            Are you so sure about that? I don't know about you, but whenever my family or friends go to buy a new computer, I know exactly who they are coming to for advice: me. While ultimately it is their decision, I will not hesitate to explain to them in full the evils of whatever crap Microsoft is throwing at them or plans to throw at them in the future.
          • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

            You are correct sir! "Joe Average" doesn't know any better and will buy into it just like they do with cars. Most people don't know much about cars, so they tend to buy what they *think* is good and they pay for unnecessary service a lot of the time because they don't know any better. (Auto service = Software Upgrades). Most people are primarily concerned with price and features (Oooh shiny!). Reliability and longevity are typically secondary. From what I can see Microsoft may be moving PCs into an a
        • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mr.nicholas ( 219881 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:57AM (#5891713)
          1) Microsoft has already proven in a court of a law that you can post-modify a controlled appliance in the way you suggest (XBox mod chips).

          2) I won't buy it. It's really that simple. Great. Too bad you aren't the center of the Universe. It's all the other people who WILL buy it and potentionally make it a success, which would then have vendors writing software specifically for it, that's the problem.
        • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:58AM (#5891724)
          I'm no coder, but there are thousands of people out there that can crack whatever MS tries to do

          Cracking is one thing, having a well supported, integrated out of the box experience is something totally different. Anybody who installs Redhat with nVidia cards still get appalling speed because they are on the no-frills NV driver. You know the hoops you have to go through to run Linux on an XBox? It's strictly for hobbyists only.

          Another poster in this thread pointed out that we don't control the desktop market - unfortunately the glut of WinModems and hardware with binary-only drivers hammers this fact home constantly. Until people start building Linux specific hardware and selling it in stores next to "standard" stuff, hardware support will continue to be a weak point in the armour of Linux.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by macrom ( 537566 ) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:37AM (#5891472) Homepage
      Since when can't you run Linux on your Mac?

      Relegating Linux to running on Apple hardware would put a huge dent in its adoption on the desktop. Apple's products are outrageously expensive compared to x86 hardware, and they already run a UNIX-like OS so why would you spend thousands on hardware only to format the disk and install a free OS?

      Anyhow, I don't see this as locking Linux out of the desktop market. There are too many people out there that will need beefy hardware that is customizable : gamers, engineers, programmers, and other DIY-ers. These all-in-one units might do well for general office use and light home use, but any power user worth their salt will want something more. The hardware we need to run Linux will stay around as long as there is a demand from people like us.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

      I think the fear is that the so called enchanchments may be win dumbed hardware like winmodems. Microsoft has a tendancy to support obsecure and undocumented hardware.

      But I found none of this from the article. Infact I am kind of confused by statements like "we will make hardware work better with windows..." since hardware has great Windows support. How can they work better with software manufactors? If you are a manufactor of course Windows is the number one OS to support above everyone else.

      My guess is
  • Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinergy ( 88242 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:30AM (#5891382) Homepage
    Yay, now we get more than just Win-MODEMS. Win-FPU's, Win-HD's. The future is great. THIS is where I want to go Bill.
    • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bendy Chief ( 633679 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:34AM (#5891427) Homepage Journal
      You raise a good point. This is all jazzy and cool for the people who buy cases with no expandability and no flexibility, but if Microsoft really thinks they're going to wow anybody with a clue, they're sorely mistaken.

      How many elite Mac users can you think of who run eMacs or iMacs? Pretty, compact, and inflexible iMac, or relatively "hackable" (Relatively; this is still an Apple machine) Power Mac G4? This is exactly that same conundrum, played out on PC.

      • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bobKali ( 240342 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:56AM (#5891699) Homepage
        But isn't this the ideal market of MS? People who would prefer a pre-fab throwaway PC with a pre-installed throwaway OS. People who want to hack and those who want more control over their own machines wouldn't use their software anyway.

        But since the non-hackers represent the VAST majority of the market - however they go, so goes the market. And if the hardware can be made less expensive (like winmodems were less expensive) then seems to me that there's a good chance the market could be coaxed in that direction - making life a little more irritating for the rest of us.

        I think it's a cleaver move - and one that ties in nicely with their xbox project (which is beginning to look more like marketing R&D to prep the way for MS-exclusive hardware.) I don't know if they can pull it off.
        • Re:Huzzah! (Score:3, Informative)

          by kiwimate ( 458274 )
          It's interesting to read a different article on this. The one sentence that most posters seem to have missed was the one about the demonstration unit being an office PC. For a different slant, try reading this article [].

          For example, from that article:

          Microsoft Corp. said on Monday it has developed a next-generation personal computer with Hewlett-Packard Co. aimed at helping users who juggle phones calls, faxes, cell phones, e-mail, instant messaging (news - web sites) and video conferencing as part of thei
      • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Funny)

        by micromoog ( 206608 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:57AM (#5891720)
        How many elite Mac users can you think of who run eMacs...?

        Yeah, most of 'em prefer vi.

  • by CBackSlash ( 613476 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:30AM (#5891384)
    as much as I love sweeping conclusions, how does this prevent Linux from being used on the desktop?

    Linux can obviously still run on other PC's, and other architectures in general.

    What's stopping somebody from "partnering" with a manufacturer, producing a PC that won't boot DOS/Windows, but will boot Linux? Obviously on such a board, MS could always add support for it, but wouldn't.

    • by Frequanaut ( 135988 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:38AM (#5891481)

      Think drivers. Think booting only those operating systems of which the bios approves (in the name of security perhaps?).

    • Yeah, that's what I was thinking... it seems like the Linux community usually prides itself on being able to hack Linux to run on any hardware... But since it will make Microsoft look bad to say that this "Athens PC" will only run windows no matter what, they seem to have forgotten.

      More Slashdot FUD...

  • by jrrl ( 635743 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:30AM (#5891390)
    Anyone want to start a pool on when a port of Linux to this will be ready?
    • I'm not a betting man, but I figure that this [] would be the place for it to be announced.
    • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:48AM (#5891609) Homepage Journal
      About one week before you get your Cease and Desist issued under the DMCA, because you had to crack the "protection mechanisms" of the box in order to boot an unsigned OS on it.
    • Even if a port of Linux is available, I forsee that it will never become a legitimate competitor.

      Several reasons: (think in terms of business and third party vendors writing software for a Linux port...)

      - EULA on the hardware disallowing any other operating systems
      - Voiding the warranty of the hardware.
      - A monthly fee for a hardware "lease" or "rental" or "maintenance", with a hardware-required dial-in. (think tivo)
      - Hardware lockouts ostensibly for DRM.

      Who is going to write software for this? No one b
    • by gonvaled ( 584635 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:54AM (#5891680) Journal
      I wouldn't be so sure ... This, combined with Palladium, could effectively lock out certain software from running. The trend here is to build a product which is not a combination of HW and SW, but which must be seen as a complete system which can not be changed. This is not inherently bad if it weren't for two important factors:

      - will other products have the possibility to compete?
      - will it be possible to interconnect other computers with this one, share information, ... ?

      I think it is very clear on which track MS is here: it will try to wipe out competition on the OS market, and then it will try to get control of file formats and transfer protocols/interfaces. This has already been done in some areas; it is just trying to increase the pressure.

      I think is is possible for them to technically lock out certain SW: I fear the only way to stop them is to further increase the legal pressure and force them to open the market to competition. Exactly the opposite than what is actually happening. Very sad ...
  • Outstanding! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stanmann ( 602645 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:31AM (#5891400) Journal
    The XBOX will now come with a monitor, an HP label, and Windows XP. Yay!

    Oh wait, this is a bad thing... I think.
  • by inteller ( 599544 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:33AM (#5891417)
    I do't think we have anything to worry about. Media Center Edition was a complete failure because they only allowed OEMs to carry it. Now they are going to have your OS come with the hardware and nothing else? The point is to get your software into the hands of as many people as possible, not tie it to hardware. Apple succeeded because they did this from the get go....Microsoft can't do this now.
  • by gleffler ( 540281 ) * on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:35AM (#5891438) Journal
    Microsoft has made hardware standards for quite some time. They still haven't gotten in the hardware business (other than peripherals.) And why on earth is it so awful that MS is trying to make Windows better? We (the /. crowd) always bitch about how much it sucks, why don't we applaud MS when they do something to try to fix it? Setting up a standard for PC hardware that they think will integrate better with Windows is fine IMO - if it helps make "the" consumer OS better for the consumer, more power to them. I don't blindly support monopoly abuse, but I really don't think that's what's happening here. I think that MS is taking steps to make the PC better (by integrating telephony and other "cool" features). The system they've set up has some real innovation and isn't merely copying the work of others. I think we should at least see it before mindlessly bashing it (as some of the other comments have already done.)
    • by Bagheera ( 71311 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:04PM (#5891774) Homepage Journal
      Indeed they have (made hardware standards) which may be part of the reason we had "emulate three buttons" for our mice, and now have more buttons, wheels, force feedback, and lord knows what else, than we can use. Let's not forget the useless extra "standard" keys. Well, useless until we re-map them to something else.

      I'll resist the "Elitist" urge to NOT make computers even easier to use than they are (SPAM exists because lemmings use computers) and side with the mass consumers here who want their machines even simpler to use. You know - the same crowd who's VCR still blinks 12:00 on the face. Perhaps MS and the hardware manufacturers are onto something here. I mean, how long did it take them to emulate MacOS? Why not emulate the iMac itself? And we all know how Customer Focused Microsoft is. Why there couldn't possibly be an ulterior motive here could there?

      Like, say, set hardware standards that lock you into the OS/Hardware combination? Licensing fees that make you 'rent' your OS? "PC Phone home!" and make sure you have your credit card ready, otherwise your OS will shut down rendering your fancy new integrated PC a doorstop.

      "I'll just load BSD on it!" Well, sure, if the BIOS will let you.

      "I"ll just hack the BIOS so I can load Linux!" Well,sure, except for the teeny problem of those pesky Reverse Engineering and Circumvention clauses in the DMCA.

      WILL this all turn out that way? Who knows. But given past performance, I don't see how this can be beneficial to the COnsumer without being a lot MORE beneficial to Microsoft.

      Why is the PC market in a slump? Ask Microsoft. You know: the people who encourage you to upgrade to a 3GHz CPU with 2 Gig of RAM so your spreadsheets will run "So much faster!" (Ok, not fair maybe. That's just for the business desktops. We all know the power's there to play the latest and greatest video games)

    • "...why don't we applaud MS when they do something to try to fix it?"

      Because the monopoly bell is fun to ring. Everybody here has a wild imagination about how MS plans to take over the world. I remember when the XBOX was getting close to launch, everybody was whining that MS was going to monopolize the game market, and then somehow use that to make Windows the dominant OS. Heh. Very imiaginitive BS.

      They just can't face facts that MS is a very diverse company and not EVERY division of it is trying to
  • by Obiwan Kenobi ( 32807 ) <evan&misterorange,com> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:35AM (#5891440) Homepage
    This is yet another attempt at total desktop control, something Microsoft can't wait to have.

    Micahel Robertson said it best []:

    Microsoft wants to move to a world where THEY decide what software a computer runs because that will allow them to extract the most money from consumers. They'll position this product with a comforting sounding name like "trustworthy" computing and tout the benefits, but it's really about shifting power over an individual's PC from the buyer to Microsoft. Microsoft will put up a permission gate before any software can be installed which will have a fee associated with it. It will ultimately give Microsoft control over a user's computer.

    This is the first step in something like this becoming a reality. Control the hardware before you control the software.

    Remember that story where microsoft wants to implement "classes" of pcs? Like "This game will only run on Class A or better machines"? This is a start, if only halfway.

    This scares the hell out of me, and think long and hard about what the implications of such an act can cause if this becomes "mainstream".
    • by TopShelf ( 92521 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:42AM (#5891536) Homepage Journal
      This looks like it's targeted towards corporate environments, where Microsoft is facing pressure to demonstrate greater value for the premium they command over other office solutions. Towards that end, locking things down can be a good thing, preventing users from clogging up PC's with dancing gorillas and other crap.

      I think you can take off your aluminum foil hat for now, the Boogeyman of Redmond isn't really hiding under your bed... (but that always seems to make a good /. story)

      • by Yohahn ( 8680 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:53AM (#5891663)
        The idea that "locking down users, promotes productivity" is a myth that is derived from scientific management (A useful tool, but not based in enough fact).

        While a more controled environment will reduce problems from the least knowledgable of workers, it will also reduce the capabilities of the smartest/most creative employees.

        What's the first question you ask yourself when you see a user that is doing something that could have been prevented with lockdown? For me it is:
        "Who hired this one?"

        This gets to the truth. Many people in companies aren't able to handle their responsabilities. They either need to be trained, disciplined, let go, or "locked down".

        When an organization chooses to lock down systems, however, they kill creativity. I'd recommend one of the other options.

        In order to optomize human organizations, you must look at how HUMANS work (not machines, that's what scientific management does).
        • by Elwood P Dowd ( 16933 ) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:49PM (#5892275) Journal
          The reason most companies lock down machines has nothing to do with individual productivity. It's not like they block my access to /., now do they?

          Instead, it is usually to enforce valuable policies. For example, it may be too expensive to back up each individual computer's hard drive continually. So, a corporate IT dept may lock down a machine to discourage users saving essential data to their local, un-backed-up drive.

          Similarly, legal reasons may require a company to delete email after a certain amount of time. There are a million different real business needs for taking control away from users. It's not just because we enjoy stifling our coworkers.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:10PM (#5891849) Homepage
        Towards that end, locking things down can be a good thing, preventing users from clogging up PC's with dancing gorillas and other crap.

        i can do that with linux for 100% free right now..

        or.. if you have any skill with IS or IT (read that as non-MCSE) you can do it with NT4.0 and W2K right now without spending another dollar on software by simply setting up the proper policies on the machines.

        so what is the advantage again? as I still see this like XP as adding zero value for the money spent.
      • by cabraverde ( 648652 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:21PM (#5891983)
        preventing users from clogging up PC's with dancing gorillas and other crap.

        You mean the ones shouting "Developers! Developers! Developers!"... I wish those damn gorillas would leave me alone.
  • by RealBeanDip ( 26604 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:35AM (#5891441)
    "The Athens PC has a built-in telephone linked to Microsoft's productivity applications. When the hardware receives an incoming call, the software automatically pulls up the caller's contact information and photo if the data are stored on the system."

    Awesome, and 6 months later and a few installs of various packages, your phone rings and you see this:

    A system error has occurred:

    ODBC-OLE error 864: Can't connect to object. Please contact your vendor

    Call rejected.
    • by redtail1 ( 603986 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:41AM (#5891514)
      "The Athens PC has a built-in telephone linked to Microsoft's productivity applications. When the hardware receives an incoming call, the software automatically pulls up the caller's contact information and photo if the data are stored on the system."

      Just what I've always wanted, a $2000 Caller ID box.

    • I initially read this as:

      "The Athens PC has a built-in telephone linked to Microsoft"..

      I instantly imagined a call from a MS representative the instant your attempt to do MS does n't approve of.. imagine: to download Redhat ISO.. rings..


      "I'm sorry Dave I can't let you do that"
    • That sucking sound you hear is the Seattle Times reporter trying to get closer to the money. That's why you get the back-handed slap at Apple, credited with numerous innovations to the ire of Gates... Hmmm, what's he mad about, the fact that Apple get's credit or the fact that Apple actually innovates?

      That contact info thing in the so-called Microsoft productivity application has been a standard part of HP's telephone support package for some time. You can buy fingerprint readers now, off th
  • by drgroove ( 631550 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:35AM (#5891443)
    Microsoft is treading on shaky ground here. What is to stop Dell from suing Microsoft for collaborating w/ HP on Athens? Who owns the rights to the manufacturing concepts behind this PC - HP, or MS? If its HP, then this partnership puts other PC manufacturers at a serious disadvantage, as they wouldn't have access to the IP to build a similar or identical PC... not that I'm against companies suing MS over this sort of thing, but you'd think that w/ MS' past legal troubles, they'd stay out of manufacturing or collarborating w/ manufacturers unilaterally.
    • You mean the way Microsoft and HP/Compaq locked everyone out of making PocketPC's, TabletPC's and MediaCenter PC's? Microsoft has used Compaq/HP as their testbed/reference designer for new hardware platforms for years. They haven't locked anyone else out yet, what makes you think they're going to start doing so now?
  • Is it just me, or does that computer look a heck of a lot like Homer's setup in the Mr. X episode? With all that crap attached to the monitor, and all...
  • and I Quote... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:39AM (#5891492)
    Louis Kim acknowledged the similarities [of Apple's recent hardware lineup], noting, "Apple is on a similar track in that they're designing with the end-user in mind and they're integrating hardware and software."

    Apple is on a similar track??? A similar track? They built the f*cking track 10 years ago and Microsoft and the other PC vendors are on a hand-cart like laurrel and hardy trying to catch up. Similar track my arse! Apple are so far down the track it's not funny, MS will be coming up with a new online music distribution service next.
  • by grub ( 11606 ) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:39AM (#5891495) Homepage Journal

    1990s MS: "We are not a monopoly."

    2000s MS: "We can't compete fairly, lock out the competition."

    2010s MS: "Would you like Fries with that?"
    • Re:Oh come on.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dimator ( 71399 )
      I'd love to know what you base that opinion on.

      In an industry that has been in the doldrums the last few years, Microsoft consistently has made dumptrucks full of money. Despite their shady dealings and lawsuits, they still register as a respectable company with most Americans. What they can't accomplish through marketing, they will through lobbying.

      Microsoft is not going away. Their power will increase until they control every facet of your digital world.

  • Ok it's got a thumb print reader now tack on DRM and anybody else envisioning your WMA player requiring you to authenticate yourself to listen to the music in 3 years? After all you purchaced (or it it leased as purchacing does not allow the RIAA's sponsers to collect enough money so leasing is much more attractive to them you dont pay no more music collection) the liscence to listen to the music and only you.
    • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:47AM (#5891601) Journal
      Oh the sky is falling!


      Microsoft encourages new standards all the time and its no big deal. Previous deals with them produced both USB and cd-roms and every computer. It has benefited us. They do this because Sun and Apple have the benefit of controlling their own machines and setting standards. MS wants more security and an answer to bluetooth which is standard on all new macs.

      In 1998 slashdotters critized Microsoft for supporting USB as a way to kill Linux. Today its greatly supported and any usb keyboard or mouse will be reconignzed by it.

      If you are right and this shit happens then you can buy a mac.

      However customers will not put up with that crap from WMA if apple ports itunes to Windows with more liberal licensing. Competition is strong.

      I am sick of all this anti ms fud(even though I hate them) here. I found none of it in the actual story.

  • by cliffiecee ( 136220 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:42AM (#5891526) Homepage Journal

    When the hardware receives an incoming call, the software automatically pulls up the caller's contact information and photo if the data are stored on the system.

    Well, time to get to work today...

    No, too fat... Hm, no picture? No support... Yikes! Fugly, no help for you... Whoa, hold on a minute! Yes, Tech Support is ready to hump- er help you!
  • When the hardware receives an incoming call, the software automatically pulls up the caller's contact information and photo if the data are stored on the system.

    This is going to be interesting. If i recall correctly, the dutch personal privacy laws don't allow the automatic retrieval of caller information. (although is it allowed when you manually copy the number from one program to another, don't ask me why) Again, microsoft is doing something illegal. I wonder if they would disable the feature on the

  • I thought linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    was locking linux out of the "desktop market", considering linux has no product to compete with this.

    by that I mean a tightly integrated and easy to use dekstop. call me a troll if you like, but either this is not an area in which "we" want to expand, or we just aren't doing it.

    I don't care personally, because I won't buy one whatever OS it runs, because I am a programmer, and this product is not for me.
  • Microsoft has been fighting a long war to remove any innovation or product differentiation in PC vendors. Microsoft wants conformity which is at odds with innovation. And as PC companies do try to innovate Microsoft doesn't want to be left out in the cold. A PC vendor that presents a computing value that is outside the confines of Windows is a threat.

    Microsoft created the stagnant PC industry. And now they are trying to save it. Kudos to them! LOL
  • by WD ( 96061 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:42AM (#5891538)
    Gates also plans to demonstrate a new scroll wheel and set of buttons for navigating Windows-powered devices with one hand.

  • Hmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mirko ( 198274 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:43AM (#5891544) Journal
    Microsoft partnering with HP (aka Compaq, aka Digital Research...) in order to make some new proprietary PCs.

    This means the following :
    if IBM doesn't buy Sun []before HP (who's also mentioned), then the PC market will be dead because Microsft will reverse IBM's PC specs opening which led us to the OEM world.

    Meanwhile, it would be a good idea to buy Apple stocks, because they'll be the only ones who will sell anyway.
  • by n1ywb ( 555767 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:43AM (#5891545) Homepage Journal
    Or can it?

    I'm sure no matter what MS puts in this "new" hardware, the hackers will find a way to make Linux run on it no problem. They'll probably do some crap with signing the software, like on the XBox. The big questions are, will hacking it void your warrantee, will hacking it violate the DMCA, etc. Obviously no legitimate business is going to violate the law in order to get Linux to run on an MS computing appliance.

    Anyway I doubt if it's really going to be THAT different from current PC hardware. In fact the core architecture probably won't be ANY different. What we're seeing here is probably a group of bundled proprietary officially supported USB devices or something with extra special attention paid to the drivers courtesy of MS. Basicly it's just an appliance computer, which like the iOpeners aren't really any different hardware-wise from real computers.

    So in that case there's not much stopping any other industry group from getting together and setting other open standards for this type of operation. Sorry MS, but using caller ID to pull up a person's picture when they call is NOT revolutionary. The important thing here is that it's an integrated appliance system. It's not a tough system to implement, and I'm sure we could see decent OSS solutions pretty quickly.

    I just wonder how proprietary the hardware and software components of this system are really going to be... I guess that remains to be seen.
  • by analog_line ( 465182 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:45AM (#5891567)
    No, I'm not saying this is the end of it right here and now. But this kind of think is going to be more and more prevalent. General purpose computers, as Linux proved, can in the end be made to do anything, and are not going to be big money makers for equipment manufacturers anymore. With the upgrade treadmill slowing down big time (who, aside from the hardest of the hardcore gamers, actually NEEDS a 3 Ghz P4, or an Athlon XP 3000 in their home? Not too many people. Who aside from mass copyright actually needs a 120GB+ hard drive? Not a lot of people) they're realizing that they just aren't going to keep making money this way, because computers are appliances now. I don't think they'll go completely away, though they may be 99% laptops soon enough. What they're starting to realize is that devices are the way to go, because you can get an insane profit margin, and they appeal like crazy to most people, because people tend to be gadget maniacs. I don't know many people who don't have at least a single electronic gadget that they use regularly.

    It's starting to happen. PDAs are finally starting to get good. Smartphones are starting to do relatively well in the States. The iPod. The Tablet PC. The Xbox, as gaming consoles have proved the viability of this type of model for over a decade. This is just the next step.
  • Stagnant industry? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lizard_King ( 149713 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:45AM (#5891568) Journal
    ... to help computer makers develop a new generation of PCs and reinvigorate the stagnant industry.

    Uhh... Last time I checked, the "stagnant" industry was getting a nice kick in the ass from the beautiful hardware coming from Apple.

  • Pie in the Sky (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:46AM (#5891576) Homepage Journal
    Must resist reflex to say, 'utter failure in the works...'

    Ok, the first thing that comes to mind is those network PC's I haven't heard bugger about since the big dotcom dive in corporate spending. If they were a good idea (well, maybe this isn't a well thought out argument, feel free to disagree) they'd be on a lot of desktops by now. Think how much it would save the PHB in tech support.

    The comparison to Apple is a natural. But, IMHO, Apple survives because they have a loyal following and many of their innovations are just that, innovations, not copied like *cough* *cough* Microsoft does (Embrace and extend ... this always reminds me of the phrase 'share and enjoy'...) Apple, as far as I can say doesn't try to lock users into their hardware/environment, mostly just happens, but similar software exists on MS Windows and Linus so users are free to leave if they choose. Athens appears a clear ploy to further lock owners not only into Microsoft Brand Windows Operating System, but Microsoft software products as well, i.e. This product only available for Brand A computer, 'cause all the patents belong to us. Buy these things and you limit your options. Ideal for the manager who wants to have absolute control, but like IBM's PS/2 systems, a real mess if you want to upgrade or change anything.

    While the current PC is a pretty sordid mess, an open standard would be infinitely preferable, for system makers as well as customers.

  • by Xpilot ( 117961 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:47AM (#5891600) Homepage

    MS Marketing Guy : Our new plan is to create a proprietry hardware platform and lock the Linux rebels out of the desktop! This "Athens" PC will be the ultimate power in the universe!

    Darth Gates : Do not be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to monopolize a desktop is insignificant, next to the power of the Source. (breathes heavily)

  • HP supports linux (Score:4, Informative)

    by lilbudda ( 625254 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:51AM (#5891643)
    One of the big misconceptions is that HP does not support Linux. We actually do, it's just that we don't market that fact well. HP does have a desktop offerings with Linux installed. I'm assuming that HP will play both sides of the fence with separate offerings...
  • by kawika ( 87069 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:52AM (#5891650)
    Microsoft (and Intel, and now HP, give them their credit as well) have been pushing and prodding the hardware guys into progress for more than a decade. The problem is that most hardware companies have no vision, no desire to innovate, no sense of design.

    I've been to every WinHEC for the last few years and every year Microsoft is urging the hardware vendors to drop the legacy stuff. ISA slots suck and make Plug-and-Play a miserable experience, but we're only now seeing their complete and total death in new products. Microsoft and Intel pushed the standards to get rid of them.

    Most PCs are built from standard components with standard dimensions and standard interfaces. Everything is interchangable. That decoupling has made the PC industry great and driven prices way down, but the Apple counterexample shows what tight integration and some design sense can buy you in both hardware and software. Both Microsoft and Intel would like to see a bit more innovation going on, and WinHEC is one place that they try to make their case.

    • Thank you. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cgenman ( 325138 )
      Thank you for saying the thing which Slashdot seems to be trying to avoid.

      Microsoft has taken a few good turns recently.

      Microsoft working closer with hardware vendors to get faster implemented USB 2.1 support or even a radical simplification of the PC specification is a great thing. Combine this with the previously announced reduction in the number of API calls from 79k to 8k, and the drastically needed updating of the file system, and you have the makings of a Monopoly realizing that what it sells is ga
  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:53AM (#5891669)
    locking Linux out of the desktop market

    Ah, the usual Slashdot-spin tagline. Gotta love 'em.

    PCs have become messes, and it's a worthy goal to try to deal with that. Kudos to Apple for taking some steps in the right direction, such as eliminating floppy drives and switching to LCD monitors for home models. That's just the beginning. PCs are still based around what's essentially become pointless upgrading, something that is now completely ignored by everyone except a certain set of gamers and hardware fanboys. (If you aren't shooting for bleeding edge games, any video card made since 2000 and any sound card made since 1995--including motherboard sound--is just grand.)

    Linux, for me, is only worthwhile if it improves the overall computing experience. It does that well, for some things, but for others it has become a retro object d'art. Perhaps the most damning thing about Linux is the hugely conservative community surrounding it. Cries of "If you want change then _you_ do it" and endless arguments about sticking with Emacs and the X11 standard are all so inbred and meaningless. I will make fun of Microsoft along with everyone else as long as Bill Gates & company are stagnant and producing poor products. But as much as I hate to say it, they're moving forward with some interesting ideas. Sure, those ideas aren't original (what is?) but the key is that they have a direction and purpose.
    • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:18PM (#5891941) Homepage Journal
      But as much as I hate to say it, they're moving forward with some interesting ideas. Sure, those ideas aren't original (what is?) but the key is that they have a direction and purpose.

      This isn't about being a visionary or producing fabulously 'neat' products. It is about control. If I can make a system that locks you into my products, you have no choice but to purchase what I'm offering.

      This is the same as the incestuous relationship that Ma Bell had with Western Electric. You couldn't get a telephone of your own and hook it up to the network. You could RENT their telephone. You couldn't use a modem without their permission. You couldn't put an autodialer on your phone system, despite the fact that the circuitry was easily obtained in hobby magazines and the parts were available in Radio Shack's bins.

      No, the approach Microsoft and HP are taking isn't about providing you with better products. Theirs is the same mindset as the rapist: its not about sex, its about control.

      Be careful, or you might just get fucked by Microsoft and HP.

    • by lspd ( 566786 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @01:04PM (#5892473) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps the most damning thing about Linux is the hugely conservative community surrounding it. Cries of "If you want change then _you_ do it"...

      Come on now. You've been give at least 4 quality free Windowing toolkits (GTK, QT, TK, and wxWindows) all well documented with full source code. You've been given every possible language to program in and nearly every library has a binding to every goofy language imaginable. You've been given at least 3 IDE's for C/C++ that are comparable with Visual C++, a whole slew of editors to program the scripting flavor of the month, boatloads of documentation including free commercial quality books on programming. You've got at least a dozen apps to mimic each and every commonly used windows app (FTP clients, WinZip clones, Media Players, Office Suites, Image Editors, etc etc) And to top it all off 1/3 of this stuff has been ported to Windows so you don't have to even deal with GNU/Linux itself.

      If it's conservative given all of this to expect the endless stream of people with ideas to get off their asses and write something to show how perfect their idea is, then yes, the Free software community is quite conservative.

      You should take a look at the forums on HappyPenguin. [] At least once a week someone shows up with an "idea" for a game that they want someone else to write for them, for free. Get a grip, ideas are a dime a dozen. I want to see it working before I contribute my free time to helping impliment someone else's ideas.
  • some uncle (Score:5, Funny)

    by painehope ( 580569 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:54AM (#5891683)
    Like a rich uncle sending a check when the cupboards are bare
    yeah, more like a rich uncle who has some goons beat the shit out of the grocery delivery man, then straps you to a table and feeds you cold oatmeal with cat urine and roaches in it.
    While calling your mother and telling her that you've gone on a health-food kick.
  • Journalism? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Amtiskaw ( 591171 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:56AM (#5891697)
    What makes me sick about this article is not Microsoft's intentions to lock down the PC architecture to its own specifications, it's that a supposedly independent journalist has written a piece which is little more than a press release for the company.

    I mean: "Like a rich uncle sending a check when the cupboards are bare, Microsoft today is unveiling an ambitious plan to help computer makers develop a new generation of PCs and reinvigorate the stagnant industry." Anyone would think MS is the new Santa Claus, driven not by desire for profit and market domination, but pure hearted generosity and compassion for all the poor, poor computer manufacturers.
  • by Tsali ( 594389 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @11:56AM (#5891704)
    ... a computer that is a computer? I had a crappy all-in-one Acer PC with the monitor embedded in it, and I couldn't update it for beans. Why do I want it to have a phone, glowing panels, and further enroachment into my workspace?

    Do I really want my monitor shell to pulse when I get an email? Are you out of your mind? How is that supposed to make me more productive?

    Do I really want Athens throwing a Borg arm out to the rest of my deskspace?

    How do I fix this thing if it breaks?

    How hard is it to enter a user name and password over a fingerprint?

    Just let a device be a device. Let it alone already.

  • My favourite quote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lamz ( 60321 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:03PM (#5891768) Homepage Journal
    Here's my favourite quote from the article:

    It may also help the company fend off competition from Apple and freely shared software.

    Poor little Microsoft, trying to eke out a living on the fringes of the computer industry, threatened by the monopoly held by Apple and their free software buddies!

    Seriously, though, there is something to be made of all this. Long-term, Microsoft is legitimately threatened by free software. This is why they are getting more and more into hardware, like XBox and services, like HotMail. They are moving their software away from a purchase model to a rental model.

    Things could get very interesting when a critical mass of Microsoft's customer start realizing that something like MySQL is actually superior to SQL Server, and look Ma, no price tag! If we think Microsoft acts loutish now, wait until they are legitimately threatened!
  • Too much (Score:5, Insightful)

    I cannot help wondering if the slump in the computer industry is partly due to the increasingly small returns in technology. While you can get a gajillion meg hard drive and a bazillion megs of ram along with a quintillion of mhz processor, can your mom really see an increase in performance? Does her e-mail to grandma get typed any faster? Does her word processor show huge performance increases over her old system? Does solitaire blaze along faster than ever?

    I think the biggest reason why the industry is slumping is that most of the people who want a computer at home have one. It does what they need it to and they do not have a compelling reason to blow $1,000 every year or two to keep up with technology. Year before the year before lasts computer is fast enough and reliable enough for what they need. I don't think HP cloning Apple with M$ software embedded in it is going to make them change their mind.

    For the geeks, however, the extra horsepower is used probably as much as it is desired. These same people, however, are the least likely to want to be bundled to M$. I think M$ would be better served to make what they have work without the requisite ripping out of hair every few days.

    Another $.02 into poverty...

  • by moc.tfosorcimgllib ( 602636 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:27PM (#5892039) Journal
    I'm suprised no one noticed the new strategy being implemented.

    Nothing was called "Open Source" on the webpage for Linux. It's all called "freely shared", as in illegal music files.

    It might be my paranoid side talking, but that was the scariest part of the article, not trying to lock out Linux, but making it sound like "freely shared" is a BAD thing (It's illegal to "freely share" MS Office, or Windows, or MP3's).
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:29PM (#5892072) Homepage Journal
    This sort of 'appliance' is the future of computing for the masses.

    Most people don't want a big confusing monster on their desk, they want it as simple as a toaster and as disposable as a Bic lighter.

    Not that *I* like this future for my home, but we are heading towards it, step by step.. We are already there in some businesses ( aka: terminal server/winterms ), but home world will take some time to catch up ( or is that : to come 'full circle' back to the days where computing was done in the backroom, and you just had your little display window to view it.. the way it should be really in a business environment ).

    It only makes business sense for them to push in this direction. Nothing sinister implied in their actions, just market control and maximizing profits. its what a business does.. ( or if it don't, its not a business much longer )

  • by Spencerian ( 465343 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:33PM (#5892111) Homepage Journal
    Making a PC more "Mac-like" would create a computer that undermines the reason for the success of a PC: commodity.

    While Apple's boxes aren't particularly special or different from PCs in basic parts (RAM, power supply, hard drives), the three core differences: processor, motherboard, and bootware, define what that box is and how it interacts.

    Now, a PC bought today can still, in all likelihood, run MS-DOS 6.2, 3.3, Windows 3.1, or Windows 95. That is because the PC architecture hasn't really changed to the extent that operating systems and hardware are markedly different, speed improvements and interface additions notwithstanding. A PC has always been extensible, but such a new box may find it hard to get third-parties to make their hardware work.

    If Microsoft were to build a Mac-like PC, they would need to make or use a smarter boot firmware. Bye-bye to the typical BIOS we know and love. That action alone would require various Linux distros to rewrite themselves for the new firmware. OK--not a biggie. Linux users did that for the Mac version of Linux. Next, the motherboard would need changes to make it smarter and work with the firmware. That's a lot of OS changes I presume, although IANAP.

    Plug and play devices are still a laugh, and it would be the one thing I hope a plan would fix. Microsoft tried to dictate hardware changes during Windows 95's intro, and most of it was for the best. But even today, Windows takes several minutes to determine what the hell you have in your box. A Mac never goes through this process--at least not in a way that you are aware of. Plug and play on a Mac just works.

    I don't know. I get it, but it seems that they are fighting a larger animal--the inertia of the marketplace and a desire to stay and do what they are doing. New stuff is shunned unless it looks like a gold mine. And this isn't golden, IMO.
  • Can anyone say.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Azureflare ( 645778 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:43PM (#5892213)
    Xbox? That previous story was right. Xbox was just an experiment in Microsoft propietary systems. Now they are making the aggressive move. Well, we'll see if people like not having choices. My major problem with this is: Why should people upgrade to 2ghz propietary machine if they just want to use the internet/word process. Heck, people are STILL ok just using a 700mhz machine. 700mhz is perfectly adequate (I still have one in my living room, word processing, internet, even the sims!) I'd be really surprised if people were willing to part with their cash for 1.5 second speed increase when they open internet explorer...
  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @12:44PM (#5892224) Homepage
    When IBM released the PS/2 and OS/2 at the same time in a bid to lock out clone makers and Microsoft from the desktop?

    The parallel here is so close that its amazing, particularly since Microsoft has now become the huge monolithic company instead of the plucky upstart that wants an open standard.

  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @01:56PM (#5893104) Homepage

    Linux made its way into the Xbox, and can easily make it into any system that is based on x86. Should Microsoft move to a non-x86 architecture it will be the best thing that ever happened to Linux, Apple and Sun. Microsoft will never shift from x86, and Linux can always be made to boot in face of any mod chips and drm technologies..

    If nothing else, a win32 version of loadlin could be made that will replace everything in the memory with a linux kernel and boot it. All the while people would stick to their clone PCs trying out Linux once in a while. I think Microsoft execs have been smoking some Redmond grass and need to see the only leverage they have in the market is the huge pile of x86 code that wont execute anywhere else. Theres really no other reason for people not to move to Linux.
  • Lock Linux out? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs ( 35943 ) <> on Tuesday May 06, 2003 @02:19PM (#5893332) Homepage Journal
    Heck, they couldn't lock Linux out of their game-console, what makes them think they can lock it out of a desktop PC?!

"The following is not for the weak of heart or Fundamentalists." -- Dave Barry